4228.0 - Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, Australia, 2011-2012 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/02/2013   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All



For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.


The 2011-2012 Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) is an international survey coordinated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which aims to:

  • understand the current skills and competencies of the adult population
  • assess the performance of current education and training systems in providing the required skill base for the economy
  • develop policies and programs to improve the skills adults need to participate successfully in society in the 21st century.
PIAAC provides information on skills and competencies for people aged 15-74 years in the three domains of:
  • literacy
  • numeracy
  • problem solving in technology-rich environments.PIAAC also collected information on topics including education and training, labour force activities, income, and skills used at work and everyday life.
PIAAC is the third survey of international comparisons of adult literacy skills conducted in Australia. Its predecessors were the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (ALLS) 2006 and Survey of Aspects of Literacy (SAL) 1996. Internationally, SAL was known as the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS). Data from PIAAC, ALLS and SAL are used to inform policy matters including the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development.

The Explanatory Notes section of this publication contains information about the scope of the survey as well as a list of the Australian and international classifications used.

The OECD proposes to publish international results in October 2013, and these will be available from the OECD website at www.oecd.org.


PIAAC was conducted throughout Australia from October 2011 to March 2012.

Additional data cubes, commentary and microdata containing final data will be published later in 2013.


The initial sample for PIAAC consisted of 14,442 private dwellings. Of the 11,532 households that remained in the survey after sample loss, 8,446 (73%) were fully responding or provided sufficient detail for literacy scores to be determined.

PIAAC was designed to provide reliable estimates at the national level and for each state and territory.

Refer to the Explanatory Notes for more detailed information about PIAAC's sample design, reliability of estimates and data quality. The Data quality (Technical Note) also provides further information about the reliability of the estimates.


Data previously released in the ALLS and SAL publications are not directly comparable with PIAAC data due to:

  • changes in the interpretation of the skill levels
  • combining the prose and document literacy scales into a single literacy scale
  • the numeracy scores from ALLS have been recalculated using a model to incorporate the results of all countries which participated in the second round of ALLS.
Remodelled scores from ALLS and SAL will be included in additional data cubes to be appended to the PIAAC publication later in 2013.

PIAAC expands on the previous surveys by assessing skills in the domain of 'problem solving in technology-rich environments'. This domain is a new edition in PIAAC and is not comparable to the problem solving scale derived in ALLS.

New data items in PIAAC collected information about skill use and practices at work, including:

  • the use of generic skills in the workplace including communication, presentation and team-working skills
  • skill practices at work, specifically reading, writing, mathematics and ICT skill activities.
The Explanatory Notes section of this publication contains more detailed information on the differences between the surveys over time, and also the comparability with other ABS surveys.


This publication contains data cubes and summary commentary of the main findings to assist with the interpretation of the results of the survey.

Further information about the definitions, classifications and other technical aspects associated with these statistics are available from the Explanatory Notes tab of this publication (including a Glossary and Appendices).

For more comprehensive information about the background and conceptual information of PIAAC, refer to the OECD website at www.oecd.org.


A data cube (spreadsheet) containing estimates, proportions and associated RSEs is available in a spreadsheet from the Downloads tab of this publication. Additional data cubes containing final data will be appended to this product during 2013.

A basic confidentialised unit record data file (CURF) is available from Microdata: Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), 2011-2012 (cat. no. 4228.0.30.001). Additional microdata products are proposed to be released during 2013. Further information about microdata is available from the Microdata Entry Page on the ABS web site.

The OECD proposes to publish international results in October 2013, and these will be available from the OECD website at www.oecd.org.